I don’t deal well with weakness, especially in adults, and especially in men. And specifically with men I am dating.
Should a man I’m dating display signs of depression, or lack of motivation, or lack of follow-through, or addiction, it makes me feel like spitting on them.
I once watched this Doberman eat all of her puppies as soon as they came out of her. I stood at the screen door, pressing my face into the rust, looking out over the green paint peeling off the porch and I watched her lay on her side, watched the puppies drop out from her hips. She kept her nose down between those hips and just as soon as a puppy came out, she ate it.
I’d sat with her a few days before this and rubbed her belly and talked, and told stories, and even sang Wham! songs to the puppies inside of her. I was afraid that she was eating them because of something I’d said.
“Nope.” the adults explained, not bothered at all, “There’s something wrong with the babies. She knows they’re weak, so she’s eating them.”
I hated that dog after that. It seemed pretty damn selfish that the mother of anything would reject it just because it was weak. I was also pretty pissed because I was sure that she didn’t have to eat them. If she hadn’t, I would have taken care of them. I felt that she should have known that, based on me singing songs and talking to them while they were still inside her.
Once, when M and I were married, he told me he wanted to kill himself. Shit was really hard right then. Our kids were in foster care, I was smoking crack, and he was regularly failing drug tests because of weed. That’s the sort of stuff that will cause a bit of depression, and by a bit of depression, I mean, holy shit, just thinking about it makes me feel like I have a backhoe running over my chest.
He told me he wanted to kill himself, and he was crying in the bathtub. He had long hair back then, and a tiny, hairy body, and I looked at him in that bath water and even though he’d seen me in much worse condition, I found him repulsive. “Well, go to the hospital then.” I told him before leaving the apartment to try to score some E.
Who knows about those puppies, though. It turns out that they may have been born dead, and that’s why she ate them. Sometimes that happens, too.
When I was very young I saw my mother in a bathtub, drinking out of a bottle and moving her body and eyes too slow, like when Teddy Ruxpin’s batteries start to die. Sometimes she forgot to blink with both eyes. I was standing with my step-dad, who’d packed suitcases for my brother, sister and me. I remember him throwing a pack of leg shavers at her, and saying something about how if she wanted to kill herself to just do it already.
On the phone with him this morning (name withheld) said that I shouldn’t yell at him, because he doesn’t respond to being yelled at. He’d made a bunch of promises the night before about how hard he was going to try. And yet again, he’d broken his word, and here he was freaking out at me again and making me think of those puppies.
I told him I was pretty sure he was going to kill himself or at least ruin his life, and he said “Good. That’s what I want.”
And I thought of my mom in that tub, opened my mouth to say as much. Then I remembered that the last time I’d told him anything about my life he’d used it against me when he was angry. I didn’t need to tell him about my mom in the tub because it became pretty clear that my stories weren’t all that interesting to him anyway.
So, I told him what I’d heard my step dad say to my mother. I told him that if he wanted to kill himself, to go ahead and do it.
But, I added my own bit of advice on the end of that, maybe the bit of advice I’d have wanted to add to my own mother.
“Just try to do it quickly, because it’s no fun to watch.”